The UK version of Survivor is set to launch on Saturday, and the show’s creative team is confident that it will bring a new and unexpected twist to the reality TV genre. In an exclusive interview with Deadline, EP Paul Osborne explained that the British version of Survivor is not going to be a polite, apologetic affair. Instead, it will embrace high-production values and high-stakes gameplay, similar to the US version that has become an Emmy-winning hit over the past two decades.
Osborne expressed his excitement about the show’s launch, saying that he can’t wait to see how audiences respond to the British gameplay that they might not necessarily expect. He emphasized that anyone expecting a polite and apologetic version of Survivor will be completely surprised by the level of intensity and strategic gameplay that the UK version brings to the table.
The UK version of Survivor has drawn inspiration from its international counterparts, thanks to the involvement of Banijay format consultants from around the world. Osborne revealed that they were able to learn from other territories while still putting their own stamp on the show. He cited the Australian version of Survivor as a key influence, particularly in terms of how they approach challenges.
Survivor originally aired in the UK on ITV two decades ago but only ran for two series. At the time, it faced tough competition from Big Brother, which went on to become a reality TV sensation. Osborne believes that the UK commissioners preferred less adventure-driven shows like Big Brother, which played a significant role in shaping the reality TV landscape in the country.
BBC’s Head of Entertainment, Kalpna Patel-Knight, who commissioned the reboot, shared her enthusiasm for the show and emphasized that Survivor’s UK version feels fresh, relevant, and contemporary. She also refuted the idea that the recent trend of reboots, including Big Brother, Gladiators, and Deal or No Deal, is negatively impacting British creativity. Patel-Knight stated that reboots only make up a small portion of their unscripted slate, and they continue to support new IP and back the best ideas.
Launching a British version of Survivor has been a massive undertaking. Filmed in the Dominican Republic, the production involves a large crew from the UK, as well as local and Latin American contributors. The show was shot over 34 days and required the contestants to endure challenging conditions in remote locations. Osborne shared that thousands of people applied to be on the show, with a mix of die-hard fans of the US version and others who were unfamiliar with the format.
The casting team looked for contestants who had the drive and determination to handle the tough experience of Survivor. The show aims to represent a diverse range of people from various backgrounds and ages, influenced by the success of BBC’s hit show The Traitors, which featured a similarly diverse cast. The scheduling of Survivor was also influenced by The Traitors, with two episodes airing per week on Saturday and Sunday nights, and an option to catch up on iPlayer.
Patel-Knight revealed that the BBC is investing heavily in the promotion of Survivor and that its suppliers get the full support of their marketing might. She pointed to The Traitors, which received extensive promotion during the World Cup, as an example of the BBC’s commitment to promoting its shows.
While ITV has already announced a second season of Big Brother, Patel-Knight remained tight-lipped about a potential celebrity spin-off for Survivor. She stated that they will wait to see how the audience responds to the show before making any further decisions.
Overall, the creative team behind the UK reboot of Survivor is confident that it will bring a fresh and surprising take on the reality TV genre. With its high-production values, high-stakes gameplay, and diverse cast, the show aims to captivate audiences and offer a thrilling viewing experience.